Film about local piping plovers to be shown in Waukegan

"Monty and Rose," a film that chronicles the first pair of piping plovers to nest in Chicago in 64 years, will be shown across the Chicago area in early 2020, including a free showing in Waukegan at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at the Jack Benny Center for the Arts in Bowen Park, 39 Jack Benny Drive, Waukegan.

Before 2019, piping plovers had not nested in the city limits of Chicago since 1955. The same pair of endangered shorebirds nested at Waukegan Beach in 2018. "Monty and Rose" features interviews with an array of key players in the story, including biologists, birders, volunteers and the advocates who spoke out when a music festival was scheduled.

The film is an official selection for the One Earth Film Festival, the Midwest's premier environmental film festival.

Filmmaker Bob Dolgan, a marketing consultant and lifelong birder, developed the concept for the 23-minute documentary and initiated a crowdfunding effort that reached its goal of $5,000 in August. The upcoming screenings will include panel discussions and a Q&A with the filmmaker afterward.

Dolgan is finalizing a short film, "Postcard from Waukegan," in hopes of showing it on Jan. 16 as well. Lake County Audubon Society President Emma England is featured in both films, as is Brad Semel of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

"Monty and Rose" played to five sellout showings in Chicago in November and December, and Gov. Pritzker declared Nov. 18 Piping Plover Day to mark the film's debut and the plovers' success.

Volunteers monitored the plovers' nest from dawn to dusk nearly every day last summer, protecting the birds from threats such as dogs, volleyballs and natural predators on a busy urban beach. Only 71 pairs of the federally endangered piping plovers remain in the Great Lakes region, and their population dipped to as low as 11-14 pairs in the mid-1980s.

Monty and Rose attempted to nest in a gravel parking lot at Waukegan Beach in 2018. The plovers flew between Chicago and Waukegan in 2019 before settling in Chicago. They are expected back on the Illinois shore of Lake Michigan by late April or early May this year.

Rose was seen and photographed at Anclote Key, Florida, in October. Monty's exact winter whereabouts is unknown.

"The success of the plovers is a direct result of the vision and hard work of many in the bird conservation community who spoke up for the needs of birds," Chicago Audubon Society President Judy Pollock said.

Upcoming "Monty and Rose" screenings include:

• 7 p.m. Jan. 16, Jack Benny Center for the Arts, Bowen Park, 39 Jack Benny Drive, Waukegan.

• 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central Ave., Wilmette.

• 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, Martyrs, 3855 N. Lincoln, Chicago (with Congress of Starlings performing live).

• 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, LaGrange Theatre, 80 S. LaGrange Road, LaGrange.

• 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, Barbara Belding Lodge, Brewster Creek Nature Center, 6N921 Route 25, St. Charles.

• 6:45 p.m. Thursday, March 26, Leucht Auditorium, McHenry County College, 8900 Hwy. 14, Crystal Lake.

• 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, Northbrook Public Library, 1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook.

• TBD, Wednesday, May 13, Indiana Dunes Birding Festival.

• 8 p.m. Thursday, May 14, DuPage Birding Club, Faith Lutheran Church, 41 N. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn.

The full list of screenings and ticketing details are available at View the film's trailer at

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